Making the right movePresident Park Geun-hye’s diplomatic pitch on the United Nations stage to solve North Korean predicament left much to be desired. In her address to the UN general assembly on Monday, she emphasized that resolving the North Korean issue was critical for regional peace and the universal goal of creating a world without nuclear weapons. However, she failed to draw consensus from the United States, China and other global powers to take action should Pyongyang take additional steps with its nuclear program. The two Koreas have kept up dialogue to arrange reunions for war-separated families, but the nuclear issue remains taboo in inter-Korean talks. The hard-won momentum could be wasted if North Korea blasts off a missile.
The United States and China must help to break the ice in the nuclear conundrum. But Washington is entirely preoccupied with the Iranian nuclear issue and upcoming elections. Beijing is also unwilling to take the initiative.
We had hoped for change of behavior from Beijing after President Park attended the country’s Victory Day celebration. During summit talks with his Korean counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed opposition to any actions that could escalate tensions in the Korean Peninsula. Yet his words were not followed by real actions. During a joint news conference with President Barack Obama after summit talks at the White House on Friday, Xi didn’t directly mention North Korea.
The comment was strangely dropped in the joint statement announced by Beijing. We can only question if Beijing has the will or a plan to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. There is still the possibility that Pyongyang will launch a long-range missile or conduct a fourth nuclear test timed with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party on Oct. 10. There must be fast strategies and actions to ensure that North Korea does not make a decision that could jeopardize the inter-Korean relationship and its international status beyond repair.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 30, Page 26